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Citation for the Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree

Awarded to Richard Travis Whitcomb, Class of 1943
at Commencement on June 17, 1956

It was evident early in his college career that he was a most promising aeronautical engineer. His interest in aircraft and their design dates from his boyhood, spent here in Worcester, and his hobby of designing and building model planes. While a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he designed a bomb with a heat-sensitive device in its nose to guide it to the target. It was only two years later that he learned that one of the secret projects of World War II's scientists was a bomb like his.

His graduation from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with high distinction in 1943 was followed by appointment as an engineer at the Langley, Virginia, Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. In 1951, while engaged in extensive research on aircraft design, he developed what is now termed "Area Rule" for supersonic aircraft. So revolutionary in concept that it was at first coolly received, his "Area Rule" changed the shapes of aircraft to make it possible for them to pass through the sound barrier easily and without great bursts of extra power, thus saving untold research time and expense for United States aviation. This single discovery has been called the "greatest advance in aviation since man broke the sound barrier".

For his discovery and experimental verification of the "Area Rule", he was last December awarded the Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautics Association for "the greatest achievement in aviation in 1954".

For conspicuous achievement in aeronautical research and design and for his service to our nation, this Institute is honored to confer upon this distinguished graduate, Richard Travis Whitcomb, the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering.

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